Böckstein which lies south of Bad Gastein and north of the Tauern Tunnel has been important for the mining of gold and silver and for salt extraction since the middle ages. As in other mining enterprises in Austria, the Fugger family, bankers of Augsburg, were heavily involved in the area in the late 15th century. Gold and silver production reached a peak in 1557 but subsequently declined, only to revive again in the mid-17th century. From 1741 there was investment in new plant, notably machinery including stamps for washing ore, and gunpowder was increasing employed in the workings. New developments in the 19th and 20th centuries which involved considerable capital sums were unprofitable, but from the 1950s parts of the mine have been developed for therapeutic purposes.
The museum, whose establishment owes much to Peter Sika (1916-92) includes displays of water powered machinery, and exhibitions illustrating the significance of gold mining in the region and in the history of the world. Visitors are able to try to find fragments of gold by washing ore. There is also a section on salt working. The museum is open between May and September each year.